Blackthorn Resources has announced that a scoping study at the Kitumba Project in Zambia has confirmed the potential for a large open cut mine.

The study showed that the mine has an estimated mineable ore of 84.5Mt Run of Mine (ROM) at 1.19% Copper.

Hosted in Blackthorn’s 100%-owned Mumbwa Project, the resource has a life of 16 years, including a construction period of 18 months and mining period of 13.5 years.

The scoping study, undertaken by independent consultant Minarco-MineConsult, supports potential for a mine based on the recently announced Mineral Resource estimate by The MSA Group.

The group estimated 439Mt in situ ore at a 0.25% Cu cut-off, comprising 164Mt of indicated mineral resource and 275Mt of inferred mineral resource.

The mine’s infrastructure will include a process plant, ore stockpiles and handling equipment, mine offices, equipment workshops and an access road.

The process plant, which will have an annual capacity of 7.5mt, is estimated to cost $145m, while the process operating cost will be $6.66/t ROM, Blackthorn said.

Blackhorn expects to incur capital expenditure of $377m on the project, with $134m for project development and infrastructure, $35m for pre-strip and $63m for contingency.

Blackthorn Resources managing director Scott Lowe said: "This is a very important milestone in the history of the Kitumba deposit within the Mumbwa project. While much work remains to be done, this outcome gives some indication of economic potential and gives us great encouragement and justification for further expenditure.

"We now intend to progress to prefeasibility level studies, along with further drilling to potentially extend the resource."

Future studies will be undertaken to assess heap leaching and copper cathode production potential of the mine using the supergene ore from the upper parts of the Kitumba Mineral Resource.